30-year Flashback: 1977 Game One- Mich. 37 Ill. 9
Sept. 10, 1977 at Champaign, Ill.: Michigan began its defense of its Big Ten Conference title by kicking off the 1977 season with a conference road game against the Fighting Illini who were coached by the Wolverines former defensive coordinator Gary Moeller. Michigan Head Coach Bo Schembechler did not take it easy on his former protegee as the #2 ranked Wolverines put up 39 points on the scoreboard. The Wolverines' attack was led by quarterback Rick Leach (junior) who threw two (2) touchdown passes and ran for 78 yards. Leach's first TD pass was a 30-yarder to sophmore Ralph Clayton. Then tailback Harlan Huckleby, who rushed for 128 yards and scored twice, broke loose on a 15-yard scoring run and the Wolverines never looked back. Michigan's defense checked the Illini with 107 total yards as sophmore sensation Ron Simpkins had 11 tackles (two for losses) and recovered a fumble. Cornerback Mike Jolly had both an interception and a fumble recovery in the game and was named Defensive Champion. Fullback Russell Davis was the Offensive Champion. Tailback Harlan Huckleby was the Associated Press' Player of the Week. Go Blue!
Ill.-Finzer, 42-yd. FG
M- Clayton, 30-yd. pass from Leach (Willner)
M- Huckleby, 15-yd. run
M- Huckleby, 3-yd. run (Willner)
M- Willner, 23-yd. FG
M- G. Johnson, 11-yd. pass from Leach (Willner)
M- R. Davis, 4-yd. run (Willner)
Ill.- Baker, 1-yd. run
Rushing: Huckleby (M) 24-128; R. Davis (M) 18-98; Leach (M) 12-78; Coleman (Ill.) 18-64
Passing: Leach (M) 6-11-76; Steger (Ill.) 3-8-37
Receiving: G. Johnson (M) 2-30; Clayton (M) 1-30
*Note: Photo of Rick Leach from TK Legacy Michigan Football Cards.